University of Melbourne Student Precinct

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UoM’s Student Precinct enhances student experience through reconciliation, diversity, and connection, with scalability of activity from festival to social modes throughout 24,000m2 of new and refurbished buildings and 12,000m2 of new landscape. The precinct embeds greater recognition of First Nations cultures, whilst ensuring student perspectives are captured into its design.


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Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
Image: Peter Bennetts
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The client (University of Melbourne) has an overarching goal to deliver a world-class campus-based experience for its students, delivering on its commitments and broader campus strategy development. As part of this, the brief for the Student Precinct project was to address student desire for meaningful sustainable design and embedded Indigenous recognition of place, while co-locating essential student amenities, creating arts and cultural spaces, and improving thoroughfares. The natural heritage of the site was to be preserved, whilst enabling accessibility and embedded reconciliation. Overall, the brief was to develop a space ‘by students, for students’ through co-creation and student-led design.

  • A collaborative design team was curated to respond to the complexities of the brief; inclusive of a new performing arts centre, a library (and non-library), extensive new retail, student services, union offices, and multiple event spaces, all surrounded by student orientated spaces. As part of a comprehensive indigenous engagement strategy, over 45 First Nations language groups were consulted to ensure that the design of Student Precinct was informed by their voices. This cultural understanding embraces a concept of ‘Reconciliation at Scale’. As a signature project of the University’s RAP, this is tangibly activated within the built fabric.

  • Captured student perspectives, through an extensive co-creation process, are infused into the raw materiality of the precinct that encourages student ownership and occupation. The careful regeneration of existing 19C/20C buildings, creates an inclusive and porous precinct that embeds cultural and heritage connections at the heart of student experience. A responsive series of sustainability strategies around water, urban shade and energy enhance this offering and have resulted in 6-star ratings for new buildings and a new longevity in heritage ones.

  • While leading and overseeing the entire delivery of NSP, we also turned our focus to designing the Eastern Resource Centre (ERC) and the Arts and Cultural Building. Both buildings are key examples of the strategic design that embraces the changing role and experience of education. The ERC’s design repurposes the existing brutalist building into a diverse space set across four levels that houses library services and a technology hall, project rooms, a range of study spaces, physical library collections, a post grad research centre and a winter garden. The design addresses the evolving needs of staff and students and reimagines library services to maximise their efficiency and use. Adjustable service pods allow staff to deliver a side by side teaching model while the upper levels of the ERC provide quiet spaces for study. Similarly, the Arts and Cultural Building is designed with its diverse uses in mind. It hosts an array of retail, informal student and event spaces, focused on student and vibrant cultural activity. The design gives presence to student life with the concept of a promenade theatre where every day activities are performed in a range of formal and informal spaces.